Day 640 – Thankful for Random Real Life Lessons from The Book of Joy

Thank you again so much to Kelsey Lyons for the copy of The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Bishop Tutu!!!  I’ve been re-reading it lately and last night I went back through the chapters about gratitude and compassion.  The section on perspective really sunk in again as well a couple of nights ago as you could see by the post yesterday.  As often happens my brain soaked in more than I thought and I was looking at the world very differently when I woke up this morning.

When my alarm went off I laid there for a second and felt how stiff and sore my legs were.  Remembering the book I paused and said to myself, “How lucky am I to be alive this morning?  How fortunate am I to have a body that is capable of exercise?  How wonderful is it that I am able to spend quiet time with Becky doing something so healthy and fulfilling?”  I couldn’t help but smile and get out of bed.

While running Becky and I talked about many things and it reminded me of perspective again.  In every moment of every day I have the opportunity to determine how I will view a situation.  If I am in a bad mood or seeing something negatively it is entirely my fault and I need to find a way to change it.  Not only change my perspective, but find a way to learn from it and be thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow.

For lunch today I really wanted to go for a walk but had second thoughts due to the heat and my sore muscles.  My mind went back to the thought of gratitude and I realized that I wasn’t looking at it the right way.  This was a beautiful day to go for a walk!  The sun was out, there was a little breeze, and the exercise in the heat would strengthen me, not break me.  I headed out and enjoyed a wonderful stroll that allowed me to take a deep breath and think through several challenges I have in front of me at work.

My normal path took me through the cemetery.  Yup, you could say it’s morbid, but I find it quite motivational.  As I walked through I kept thinking about how thankful I am to be alive.  It led me to think about what they would like to do over if they had more time which then reminded me of what is truly important in life.  As I walked I thought about how fortunate I am to be alive to enjoy those important moments more.  I was thankful for all their grave stones reminded me of.

About midway through the cemetery loop I happened across and older gentleman.  As we passed we both smiled at each other.  He looked at me and said, “We must be a couple of walking diehards, huh?” as his smile spread even bigger across his face.  Mine did the same as I agreed with him.  It was a moment of bonding and companionship.  We both were congratulating the other for finding the reason to go out instead of using the heat as an excuse to do something we enjoy.  That moment was pretty cool.

At work there were a couple of times in which my mind kept returning to that thought of gratitude.  Even though certain things are definitely challenging they are opportunities to grow and learn.  In some cases I was thankful for past painful lessons that helped me guide others through their own challenges.  Had I not struggled and failed in the past I wouldn’t have been able to help, or even worse, I might have hurt them with my advice.  Funny how after the fact it’s so much more clear that something was a great learning experience instead of a really difficult time.

Throughout the day my attitude, mindset and life were impacted by those wonderful lessons from The Book of Joy.  I highly recommend it to anyone who could use a little nudge to help them through the challenges they may be facing.  It’s well worth the time to read and inspires me on an almost daily basis.  Today those lessons really stood out loud and clear and I was thankful for each of them.



Day 639 – Thankful for a Dreamlike Solo Run and Deciding to Choose My Perspective

This morning I attempted to be as disciplined as Becky so I set my alarm to wake up early and get an extra run in while she lifted weights.  Sadly, my dreams won for about 15 minutes before I finally got my butt in gear.  This was the first time in quite a while that I had a truly solo run, no Becky, no dogs, just me.

My runs with Becky are awesome and I truly appreciate each of them. They’re a great way for us to seemingly cheat time by creating some extra time for the two of us to be together throughout the day.  Once in a while it is nice to run by myself.  I appreciate the runs with her more after I run alone as I can see how much she motivates me to stay on pace as well as how much more quickly the run goes when we’re talking and spending time together versus alone.  It reminds me to be grateful for this tradition we’ve established.

I also enjoy having the time to myself to just let my thoughts drift.  Nowhere in particular, they just drift in different directions.  While running this morning that feeling was amplified by the fog that had settled into the Mississippi River Valley.  The combination of running alone, listening to some great music – Soul to Squeeze by RHCP, letting my thoughts just drift and seeing the view below led to a run that felt more like a capricious dream than a workout.  It was amazing and soul soothing at the same time.


The other thing that I am thankful for I am not quite sure how to put into words without getting into detail that isn’t necessary and almost takes away from the concept.  Here’s the long and short of it…

In every event that happens to us we have the opportunity to choose how we view the event, good or bad, happy or tragic.  The label we apply to it, the perspective we choose depends completely on us.

I could look at the death of my dad as the worst thing I’ve experienced thus far in life.  It would be so easy to hold onto the sadness, loneliness, and feeling of no control.  I could sit on a throne of pity and ask every person I meet to sympathize with me.  This one event could consume me and even become my identity in a horrible way if I let it. It could a huge source of fear and weakness that would be the downfall of my happiness.


I could look at the death of Dad as a part of the natural cycle of life, something that was bound to happen and would happen regardless of my thoughts and wishes.  As such, instead of feeling sad I could use this as a source of knowledge to bring more joy to my life.  I can use his death as a way to learn more about life and death.  His death can help me to help others through difficult times.  I can pause and just feel all the love that was shared by so many friends and family during that time and I’ll never feel lonely for as long as I live.  It can be a tremendous reservoir of strength that can power me to do right through any challenge. As odd as it sounds to write, I can be thankful for his death as it has helped me to be a better and more joyful person.

The choice is up to me. The event is the same, the only difference is my perspective. Only I can make the choice.

Today I’ve chosen the right mindset and was able to do right by others specifically because of what I learned through losing Dad.  I know he is smiling from up above as he would be so happy to see how that experience has changed me.  I’m thankful for taking the time to choose the right way to view his passing today.


Day 638 – Thankful for Incredible Luck and a Couple of Inspirational Notes

When the boys and I headed home after getting haircuts last night I had this weird feeling that I’d forgotten something.  My mind raced and I realized that I’d forgotten my laptop.  Still driving, I quickly realized that I had it in my hands when I left.  A lightbulb went off and I quickly yet ever so delicately pulled onto the next side road.  Yup, my hunch was right…


By some crazy act of God and purely wild luck my laptop had managed to stay on the roof of my car for about a dozen blocks!  How ridiculous is that???  While it happened yesterday there were several times today (often while entering and exiting my car) that the memory popped into my brain and had me laughing at myself while being very grateful for my incredible fortune.  The even sillier thing is that this was the second time it’s happened, and the first time my iPad stayed on the roof for a couple of miles!  I am so thankful for that crazy string of luck!

This morning I received a very nice and motivating note from one of my closest college friends about my writing and gratitude.  My smile widened as I read his note and saw that he’s been keeping a dream journal for the past 6 weeks and counting – great job Brian!!!

Later in the day my inbox contained an email from my cousin who also commented on the impact my blog has made on her and how many people read it and are inspired by it.  Thanks Julie!!!

Both of those messages warmed my heart and they inspire me to keep doing this every day for the rest of my life.  There is only thing more motivating for me to keep this blog going every day than the joy it brings me…  bringing a little extra joy to the lives of others.  Thank you both so much for these notes, they fill me with happiness and strengthen my sense of purpose.


Day 637 – Thankful for an Incredible Gift First Thing in the Morning

This is starting to line up to be the week of being thankful for something first thing in the morning!  Not gonna lie, having something amazing first thing in the morning really starts the day off in a wonderful way.

Today I hadn’t even gotten out of bed before I was smiling from ear to ear.  When the alarm went off on my watch I rolled over and grabbed my phone to check the weather.  As it powered on I saw that I had Facebook notifications due to being tagged in a post by my friend Kelsey.  Here’s what I saw when I hopped on Facebook…



Words cannot even begin to express the joy her post brought to my heart and soul this morning.  Of course the pride of recognition felt wonderful, but it was much more than that.  As I read her post I knew Dad was smiling from ear to ear for having turned his loss into a source of inspiration for others.  Starting off my morning with this helped me focus on my purpose and reminded me to live an even better day of my values today to live into her post.  Before my feet touched the floor this morning Kelsey had inspired me to be the best version of myself that I could be.

To be honest, throughout the day there were several choices that I made differently specifically because of this shifted mindset early in the morning.  I immediately viewed a long days (leaving the house at 5:30am and not getting back to town until 7pm) as a wonderful opportunity to interact with more people.  Instead of listening to a podcast I fired up The Book of Joy (earlier given to me by Kelsey) as it would remind me of simple lessons to keep in mind as I took on the day.  Several times I paused before reacting negatively and did my best to put myself in someone else’s shoes before making assumptions.  There were conversations that came out much more positively as I took time to think about how to bring more joy and happiness to others.  All in all, it’s been a fantastic day that has been made better specifically from starting the morning off with this incredible gift from Kelsey.

Kelsey, thank you so much for this gift first thing in the morning!  The impact that it had on my day and the way I interacted with others was amazing and greatly appreciated.  For reals, I have to echo what you said in your post, “You have helped me more than you’ll ever know!”  Thanks dude!!!


Day 636 – Thankful for a Cleansing Run to Kick Off the Week

While I am getting better and better at watching what I eat weekends like this past one definitely throw a money wrench into the plan.  Now that I think about it, it’s really not the weekend so much as my giving in to temptation that causes it to derail.  From the point I got out of bed until the time I headed out for our run I felt sluggish, bloated, lazy and just off.  I felt like I was just moving a little slower than I normally would be and my clothes were just a little less comfy than normal.  Describing the sensation in  a word, I felt gross.

The nice thing about feeling gross is that it’s a great decision point.  Do I stuff my face with comfort food and give in because I’ve already lost or do I choose to get my butt in gear and getting back to work?  It’s as simple as that.  This morning I chose to power through a great run to start getting the the residue of bad eating choices out of my system.

The girls were still in the kennel from the weekend so Becky and I headed out without them.  Usually when we go for our run we need to stop for them several times and I will often walk for a little bit and it’s pretty leisurely.  Without the girls as an excuse I decided to punish myself a little and headed out at a much faster pace than normal.  Of course Becky had no issue with the faster pace, I’m pretty sure she would have even gone faster 🙂

The first mile was a little rough, but I kept pushing through it and by the time we were a couple of miles in I was feeling great.  By a few miles in I was feeling so good that the last mile was one of the fastest I’ve done in quite some time and it felt AWESOME!!!

Not from today, but I kinda felt like I needed to put a running pic in!

I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get back on track after my eating this weekend, but this was a pretty awesome first step.  In future mornings I’ll keep this memory in the back of my head to remind me why I love running so much.  Being able to essentially give myself a “cleanse” to start the week helped me re-wire my brain back to where it should be.  I’ve already made better eating choices and know that will continue for the rest of the week.  Getting back on track for the week after a cleansing run like this is relatively easy.


Day 635 – Thankful for Knocking Out the Entire Task List Even After Being Out of Town

Day 635 – Thankful for Knocking Out the Entire Task List Even After Being Out of Town

We had a fantastic time at Rachel and Tyler’s wedding and reception yesterday.  Between shooting the bull, goofing around, having a drink or two, and maybe even a little dancing – hanging out with the in-laws was a lot of fun!

This morning when I woke up before 7 I knew I had to get my butt in gear and get moving.  After a weekend of fun up north there was still a pretty long list of things I needed to knock out before the weekend was wrapped up.  Gavin and I took off early and made the trek home.

We both jumped into our tasks as soon as we got home.  Gavin had a list just like I did and dove in as eagerly as I did.  Next thing I knew it was time for lunch so we took a quick break and then went right back at it.  By the time I sat down to type this up I’ve completed all of it, from weed whacking to laundry to fixing a bike tire to cleaning part of the garage and a pile of other things.  Most important, Gavin and I were able to fire up the Rock Tumbler for the first couple of batches!


Usually on a weekend like this when we’re out of town I’m feeling run ragged and ready to pass out for the day before I get everything done, leaving some things for later in the week.  Today I was able to get everything done and it felt pretty awesome!


Day 634 – Thankful for the 1,000 Days of Gratitude and the Foundation of My Blog, Becky

Day 634 – Thankful for the 1,000 Days of Gratitude and the Foundation of My Blog, Becky

The first 1,000 blog posts are now officially in the book, only 3,018 to go (God willing) unless I keep this going through my fifties and beyond… (which is looking pretty likely at this point).

My mind is still trying to wrap itself around the idea that I stuck to something for 1,000 straight days!  I can honestly say I’ve learned so much about myself and life from this journey, and I am much more joyful as well.  The power of gratitude is nothing short of awesome and I’m so thankful for it.


With today’s number being a pretty big milestone (quadruple digits!) it seems only fitting to celebrate my gratitude for Becky.  Throughout all 1,000 days she’s been the foundation of my blog that has been consistently holding me up.  Without Becky’s love and support this endeavor certainly would not have endured to this point.  I’ve jokingly said that I could be thankful for something about Becky every single day, but it’s 100% true.  By the end of each day she’s given me many things that I’m thankful for.  For today’s blog I’ve narrowed it down to a few things that fit so well:  her continued support for this blog, her willingness to push me when I need it, the many memories we create together that often become the centerpiece of the post, and the joy she brings to my life.


Writing this blog takes a lot more time each day than I would have ever expected.  Most days take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to think up and write.  When the spirit moves me I start blogging, usually towards the end of the day.  Becky keeps things moving in the house and lets me have quiet while I type.  She knows how important this is to keeping a smile on my face and takes on extra work while I do it.  Becky is always supporting me and helping me make the time to keep the blog going.


There are some days when I struggle with what I am thankful for or what to write.  On those days she helps to prod me along and keep me moving.  Becky often helps to inspire what I write about by pointing things out, asking me questions, or reminding me of certain things.  When I see her face light up with an idea it’s pretty clear to me that she’s on to something and I should listen.  Behind the scenes she’s a driving and creative force behind this blog.


One of the things I’m most grateful for is the sheer number of awesome memories that we make together that become the centerpiece of the blog.  In 1,000 days of gratitude I reflect back on what I’ve been thankful for most and without a doubt the most common post revolves around something we did together, a moment we created together, or a memory we will hold dear forever.  Becky has helped create so many wonderful moments and memories for me, I am eternally grateful for each of those.  Sometimes it is something large and grand like a crazy vacation and other times it’s something so simple like going for a morning run or listening to her jam out to an old song in the car.  Sometimes it’s even just as basic as a smile that lights up my life!  Which brings me to the most important part…

Becky helps to create my pool of inner happiness that keeps this blog going.  In so many ways she enhances my life and brings so much joy to it.  Like I said, all it takes is her big and bright Becky smile to light up my world.  Every day that we start with an early morning run I know I’ll be in a better mood because I get some time alone with her.  At the end of the day I know I’ll sleep happy knowing we’ll have a little time to chill on the couch together.  I look forward to our vacations because I know that we’ll have time together without the normal distractions of life.  All of those moments when we’re able to just be together bring a ton of joy to my life.  That happiness and joys builds up and is what is at the core of this blog.  It’s easy to be thankful when there is so much joy all around me every day.  Becky keeps the smile on my face and the happiness and love in this blog.

As you can easily see, Becky is the foundation of my blog.  Her love, strength, and support keep this going more than most anyone will ever see.  More important than the blog, I’m so thankful for the way she keeps me going every day.  Each day I spend with her is another day in which I strive to be a better person, to be the best possible version of myself.  She really brings out the best in me.

So here we are, 1,000 posts on a long journey.  Over the past almost three years there have been so many things that have happened and changed, but there have been a handful of constants that have helped this blog endure.  Constant reminders of my parents and the values they instilled in me.  The ongoing inspiration from and for my boys as they drive me to work to be the best dad I can be.  The love and support of Becky, who is also a major source of the joy and happiness from which this blog flows. Being with her raises me up and puts a smile on my face every day and constantly fills my heart with love.  Lastly, the ability of gratitude to shine a light of joy and happiness in even the darkest situation and to enrich even the happiest of moments.  1,000 days of thankfulness down, many more to go!


Day 633 – Thankful for the Inspiration for My Blog, My Boys

Day 633 – Thankful for the Inspiration for My Blog, My Boys

When I started writing this blog 999 days ago I was focused on adding more joy to my life. The thought was that by being more thankful and sharing that gratitude in a very public way it would help hold me more accountable to writing daily. Looking back it’s easy to see that in many ways this blog started by being all about me. How many times did I just use “I” or “me” when talking about the start of this blog?

What I quickly found was that this passed and the motivation and inspiration to continue shifted to two of my favorite people on Earth… my boys.  Before I knew it this  became a way for me to share with them.  As I started opening my eyes to just how much this could bring them joy in the future the boys quickly became the ongoing inspiration for my daily blog.  Each day is an opportunity to share a wonderful memory, my pride in them, life lessons, choosing to live a joyful life, and the beauty of gratitude.


There have been countless ties when I’ve either stumbled across an old post and started laughing at the memory that it reminds me of.  With the boys in mind it inspires me to blog about those moments that will put a smile on their face when they happen across an old post.  Sure, we each have so many memories, but it’s nice knowing that they’ll have a tool to help jump start some of those memories.


There have been many blogs when I’ve posted about how proud I am of the boys.  They often directly inspire the content of the post for the day in that manner.  Sometimes it’s an award or an accomplishment, other times it’s in a failure in which they learned a valuable lesson, and others are when they stay true to their values.  In each of those moments I want them to not only hear how proud I am of them, but I want them to have something to look back on.  So often in life we run into challenging situations that shake up our self confidence, the boys inspire me to help leave nuggets for them to find to help them through tough times.  My hope is that they are able to read an old blog that helps to kick start their confidence and remind them of past experiences and lessons that can help them through anything.


Speaking of life lessons, they inspire me to share the life lessons I continue to learn.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one going through something specific and that can feel lonely.  The boys inspire me to help them see that they are not alone.  They also inspire me to share some of the really tough things, my faults, the big mistakes, the things that I’m embarrassed of.  It is because of my boys that I share those humbling lessons as I want them again to see that they are not alone.  I hope they find the strength they need to not only help themselves deal with their own faults and mistakes, but to also help their families in the same way.  There are also so many life lessons that I’ve learned from my parents and loved ones, I often wish I had a book with all of them to refer back to that was complete with the stories and emotions they felt.  Memory is a wonderful thing, but memories coupled with resources are even better.  Whenever you read a blog post that you can guess was difficult for me to write about you can know without question it was inspired by my boys and my love for them.


Every moment of every day we all have a choice to make, “will I be happy or something else?”  It is up to us to make that decision, knowingly or not, all the time.  This blog has been inspired so many times by my boys as they remind of this lesson.  Often they are totally immersed in the moment and find joy and inspires me to do the same.  Occasionally I find myself in a shitty mood and realize that my boys are watching me.  In those moments they inspire me to be the best possible version of me in order to be a better role model for them.  They also inspire me to write about the times that I have to choose happiness.  I want them to know that happiness doesn’t just happen.  Sometimes life throws you a curveball, punches you in the nose, or slaps you upside the head.  When that happens it’s easy to go into auto pilot and be angry, BUT we all have a choice to make in that moment.  My boys inspire me to choose to find a way to be happy because I want them to see that they can make the same choice in those difficult times.  This blog helps me show the that it takes hard work and discipline to find the positive in any situation.  It’s an awesome example of the boys inspiring me to be better and to write to help them be better as well.

Lastly, as I explained yesterday, my parents helped me see the beauty of gratitude and taking time to be thankful.  Knowing that my boys are always watching, listening and observing inspires me to share my gratitude so they can develop the same value.  When they do things like write their own “gratitude list” it warms my heart to see that they are getting it.  Since I’ve started blogging I’ve seen them become more thankful and it inspires me to keep driving the point home even more.  Of all the values I hold dear in my life gratitude is pretty much the foundation from which everything else grows.  This blog is inspired by my desire to share this value with my boys so completely so that they may find joy in every possible moment of their lives.

There are some days when I think about quitting this task.  It takes a lot of time, it’s really putting myself out there, and can be tough sometimes.  In those moments I look at Dominic and Gavin.  They smile at me and I’m immediately reminded of why I am writing this blog day after day.  They are the inspiration and motivation for this blog and I am so thankful to have them in my life.

My boys inspire me to blog, to be a better dad, and to be a better man…  and that’s something that I am eternally thankful for.


Day 632 – Thankful for Closing in on 1,000 Posts in 1,000 Straight Days and the Engineers of My Blog, My Parents

Today is the 998th straight day I’ve blogged which means I’m only a few days away from a pretty significant milestone…  four digits!  How crazy is that???  Every single day I’ve spent time writing about something I’ve been thankful for that day, and I’ve done my best to not repeat too many things.  While some have certainly blended pretty close to each other they’ve always been at least a little different or looked at the same thing through a slightly different lens.

As I close in on my 1,000th post I’ve found myself being more and more thankful for taking the time to blog.  It’s given me the reason to stop and give thanks for what I have each day and has brought so much more joy into my life than I’d ever imagined.  Someone in a TED Talk put it in a very wonderful way, “happiness wanting what you have, not having what you want.”  In taking time to write it’s helped me stay focused on the right side of the equation.


In taking the time to appreciate this process I would be remiss to not take time to be thankful for the original engineers of this blog, my parents.  Without their never ending love and positive energy this blog would never have happened.  They are the ones who showed me by example how to live a joyful life, how to share happiness, how to always stay positive, and to grit out any challenges life throws my way with a smile.

Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t perfect either, but they were the most incredible role models I could ever hope to have had growing up.  Every step of the way I knew they loved me unconditionally, believed in my ability to accomplish anything, and were always willing to do whatever was needed to help me grow.  In some cases it was support, others cases it was a kick in the ass, and other times it was friendship and humor at the right time.

I’ve been blessed to have parents who taught me at a very early age to be thankful for everything in life, especially each wonderful moment we are granted.  When times were good they were thankful, when times were bad they were thankful.  They would look to the positive and try to find the upside in every situation, regardless of how dire.  They helped me understand that by being thankful for adversity and fighting through it that I could accomplish anything I could dream.

If I think of my blog as a building that’s been built one brick at a time, day by day, my parents are the engineers and architects of it.  They’ve helped me understand the importance of gratitude and being thankful while both coaching it and living it.  They were the ones who taught me how to pause for a moment and just take in the moment and appreciate it.

Mom and Dad, thanks for being the original designers of this blog.  Without either of you this wouldn’t have grown and I would’t have the joy in my life today that I have.  Love you!!!



Day 631 – Thankful for a View that Reminded Me of an Excellent Trip with the Guys

Day 631 – Thankful for a View that Reminded Me of an Excellent Trip with the Guys

Driving back to the office after lunch I saw a sight that made me smile big.  The mist was causing a fog to roll out of the bluffs.  Amongst the dense green leaves of the tress there was an opening that exposed the bright orange of the sandstone of a bluff.  Between the contrasts of the dark green of the trees and white of the fog the bright orange was quite stunning.  In less than a second my brain connected the view to a similar view from a vacation four years ago.  My smile broadened as my mind flashed through so many awesome memories from that adventure.

In 2014 Jeremy, Brian, Steve, and I headed out to Vegas for a long weekend of fun.  While I’ll of course follow the rule about “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” I can divulge details of our day trip to hike in Zion National Park.


The weather was a little wild, it was in December and we were in the desert, yet the weather was cooler for us than it was for our families back home in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  At one point were were driving through a snow flurry which was just wild!  We drove around to see some of the sights and then spent some time hiking Angel’s Landing and a handful of other hikes in the park.  As the snow stopped the mist and fog rolled in and added a beautifully haunting quality to the landscape.  Similar to today there was an ongoing contrast between the white fog (& snow), the green of the trees and shrubbery, and the orange of the rock.  It was really quite breath taking!


Today I’m thankful for that moment I took to be aware of my surroundings to notice the incredible view.  That moment of taking it all in reminded me of the beauty of the park and then led to spontaneous laughing every so often at work as I would remember some of the fun incidents we had on that trip.  My afternoon has been full of so much joy with the memories of that trip playing in the background of my mind… and it has me thinking that it’s about time for us to look at booking our next excursion.